They have been staging weekly protests outside Chorley and South Ribble Hospital ever since its A&E closed in April 2016, and the campaigners tell Gordon McCully they won’t be backing down in their fight to reinstate a 24/7 service.
The fight goes on – that’s the message from Chorley and South Ribble Hospital campaigners.
The protestors say they are determined to keep the pressure on health chiefs to return a 24/7 A&E service to the hospital. Campaign supporter, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said he ‘won’t back down’.
And the leading protest group said it was ‘committed to carrying on the campaign’.
Steve Turner, of the Protect Chorley Hospital From Cuts and Privatisation, said: “We have met with local, regional and national politicians to raise the A&E issue on behalf of the families in Chorley and South Ribble, and have attended regional and national demonstrations.
“We know that the longer you are in an ambulance the less chance of survival you have. Every second counts in an emergency.
We are committed to carry on campaigning in 2018, our core aim is to see the return of a 24/7 A&E
“So, what have we achieved? We have put pressure on Lancashire Teaching Hospital Trust which has resulted in a reinstatement of our life saving service, the A&E department; although this is a major achievement it is only open for 12 hours which is not acceptable to our campaign.
“We joined the hospital unions to demonstrate against the privatisation of the award winning sterile services department at our hospital, and stopped this happening.
“One of our highlights was to bring pressure to bear on local councillors to pass a motion opposition opposing the governments ill-thought-out plans, the “Sustainable Transformation Partnership “ or Slash, Trash and Privatise.
“We have recognised that we cannot stand alone so we have joined together with other health campaigns around the country that are facing the same or similar issues.
“At present we are planning public meetings to highlight the disgraceful decision to ramp up significantly car parking charges at our hospital. We all know appointments can vary in time therefore cost will be a factor for many people.”
He added: “We are committed to carry on campaigning in 2018, our core aim is to see the return of a 24/7 A&E department serving our increasing population within our area. The Trust has made little or no progress towards recruiting staff to facilitate this despite their promises to do so.
“Although this is our main aim we know that the NHS is increasingly under threat of privatisation with private companies looking to cherry pick the most lucrative services.
“This will lead to rationalisation of services, more costs introduced to patients and longer traveling times as services are taken away from our hospital. We know that the public would not want to see an Americanisation of our NHS.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “The campaign to re-open Chorley Accident and Emergency Unit has been relentless in its efforts over the last two years.
“The people of Chorley have shown their unwavering support for the amazing staff of the NHS and for our hospital.
“Since the sudden closure of the unit in April 2016 I’ve met regularly with the Health Secretary, the Health Minister, chief executives of NHS England, Improvement, Chorley and South Ribble CCG and of course the hospital Trust.
“During these heated meetings it has been an immense support to know that the people of Chorley all feel as strongly as I do.
“The people I’m meeting with and holding to account, know that I won’t back down because the people of our community who have been born, patched-up, operated on, or witnessed the care our loved ones have had in the final days, place Chorley Hospital at the heart of our community.
“Funding and staffing shortages continue to loom over the Hospital and I commit, as I did at the General Election in June to working as hard as ever in 2017 to see a return to a 24/7 fully operational A&E unit at Chorley.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust declined to comment, other than to say the situation regarding the A&E department remained as it is going into the New Year.